Point / counterpoint on deer management – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On last week’s outdoors page, biologist, outdoors writer and noted deer authority C.J. Winand said that while other deer hunting states are “envious” of Pennsylvania’s deer management policy, he had bones to pick with details of the plan. Nothing nasty, just his belief that the Game Commission’s antler restrictions were the result of a bad but necessary compromise, and enforcing a minimum 15-inch inside spread would better protect young bucks. Wild­life man­ag­ers in general have “failed miserably” at educating hunters, said Winand, and squan­der cred­i­bil­ity when they de­fend bad com­pro­mises.

Winand speaks today at 11:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. at the Allegheny Outdoor, Sport and Travel Show at Monroeville Convention Center.

Chris Rosenberry, deer management section supervisor at the state Game Commission, wrote in to say he had bones to pick with Winand’s critique.

“In the case of antler point restrictions, I would argue we made the credible choice,” said Rosenberry. “Antler spread was not a viable option for Pennsylvania.”

The goal was to protect most yearling bucks while making most adult bucks eligible for harvest. A 15-inch inside spread rule in this state, said Rosenberry, would have made “nearly all yearling bucks and most 2 1/2-year-old bucks illegal for harvest.”

In addition to satisfying the policy’s biological needs, point restrictions also achieve certain social considerations, he said.

“Counting antler points is easier to apply in the field than estimating inside spread,” he said, and the policy has “continued majority support from hunters.”

As for squandering credibility and keeping hunters up to speed on wildlife science, Rosenberry said PGC has made “significant efforts” to get new information out there, citing a weekly blog on deer science and answering hunter questions on an “Ask the Deer Biologist” web page.

“In Pennsylvania, deer hunters continue to rank in the Top 5 nationally in deer harvested per square mile of land … and antlered deer harvest success rates are similar to the 1980s and 1990s,” he said. “The big difference is that today, Pennsylvania deer hunters are taking twice as many adult bucks as they did in the past. In addition, only 22 percent of Pennsylvania deer hunters are dissatisfied with the deer program.”

Meet the warden

Mike Johnson, Allegheny County Waterways Conservation Officer for the state Fish and Boat Commission, will be the speaker at the Upper St. Clair Fly Fishing Club, 7 p.m. Wednesday[2/22], USC Municipal Building, 1770 McLaughlin Run Rd., 412-835-6107.


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